Lahore, Pakistan For Less Than $25 A Day

912_54457971118_8580_nIn today’s post, Tim of UrbanDuniya is sharing his one day itinerary around Lahore for less than $25. Tim is a talented writer, traveller, journalist, amateur photographer and teacher. UrbanDuniya is an online journal featuring independent and alternative news, reviews, opinion and discussion from four major cities across Australia and the Indian subcontinent. It was founded on values of community, quality and integrity, and offers a world of good living, great writing and striking photography. Besides, Tim is one of our favourite travel bloggers who always contributes to our guest posts and collaborative posts. We always follow his voyages across India and Australia, so if you have not heard of him already, make sure to visit his blog.

Pakistan is one of the cheapest countries in the world in which to travel, and the second city of Lahore is a great place to start exploring this largely untouristed nation.

Shahi Fort 2.31.36 pm
Shahi Fort

 

Lahore is the cultural capital of Pakistan, and the capital of the most populous province Punjab. It is easy to see quite a the best of Lahore for less than $25 a day – in fact you could even do it for less than $10 if you really wanted to!

Walled City
The Walled City is an endless treasure trove of discovery!

 

Accommodation

Accommodation in Lahore is as cheap as chips – literally! You can check in to a dormitory at the Regale Internet Inn for just 250 Pakistan Rupees per night ($2.50). The Regale Internet Inn is centrally located on Mall Road in the centre of Colonial Lahore, and is something of a travellers’ institution in Pakistan; it runs trips to a Sufi shrine for a spiritual music performance each Thursday night, and on Saturday nights there is live music on the rooftop. The only drawback is that there is no air conditioning, and summers in Lahore can be hot, so be prepared!!

Sightseeing and Food

Start your day early – we’ve got a lot to see! Begin with a hearty local breakfast of channa dhal, curried chick peas served steaming hot out of a large pot beside the road.

Channa Dhal
Channa Dhal and Naan for breakfast!

 

It’s heaven when served with warm chapati and, of course, a cup of chai – and only costs PKR 80 (80 cents) all in! There are lots of places serving channa dhal on the side streets off Mall Road, so you shouldn’t have to look too far. With health in mind, opt for a popular-looking stall that has just opened for the day – it will be popular for a reason, the food will be fresh, and the plates (hopefully) clean.

Lahore Museum Buddhist
Buddhist and Hindu artefacts can be found in the Lahore Museum

 

From there, you can walk two kilometres along Mall Road towards the old city, admiring for free the beautiful British colonial era buildings on either side. You’ll easy spot the GPO, Museum and Town Hall on the left, and towards the end, cut through Naseer Park on the right towards Government College University. (Unfortunately, due to security, a tall screen has been placed at the univeristy’s boundary, so you can’t view it from up close – you’ll get a better perspective if you stand across the road on the park’s boundary).

Data Darbar
Sunset over Data Darbar shrine

 

After Government College University, make a right on to Lower Mall and cross to the opposite side. The grand colonnaded buildings of Mall Road give way to the noisy bazaars of old Lahore, and after about 600 metres you’ll reach the grand shrine of Data Darbar on the left. Entrance is free but very security is very tight (no cameras are allowed whatsoever, and there’s nowhere to store them, so perhaps take turns with one friend standing outside holding the bags while the other one explores the sublime forecourt).

Badshahi mosque interior
Badshahi Mosque is Lahore’s grandest

 

Back out on the main road, you can deviate into the Walled City through Bhatti Gate, getting lost in the labyrinthine streets. Make sure you visit Wazir Khan Mosque and Sunheri Mosque (both free entry), before eventually arriving at the Heera Mandi, Lahore’s red light district. By now you’ll be hot and thirsty, so make your way to Arif Chatkhara, in the centre of Heera Mandi – ask for directions if you need. It serves up spicy seared chicken, fresh off the tawa (hotplate) – wash it all down with a fresh lime (lemonade with a twist of lime juice and, optionally, a dash of salt if you dare). Lunch should cost you no more than PKR 300 including drinks ($3).

Badshahi Mosque
Visitors are welcome to walk through Badshahi Mosque, but should be sure to behave and dress appropriately

 

After lunch, step outside the Walled City and visit Shahi Qila (Royal Fort), where entrance costs PKR 200 ($2) per person. Opposite the fort is Lahore’s icon, the Badhshahi Mosque (entrance free, but a PKR 10 tip is a nice gesture for the men who mind your shoes at the gate). Walking away from the Walled City, down to the main road, directly in front of you stands Minar-e-Pakistan. This is the spot where Pakistan’s call for independence was first made in 1940.

IMG_8685
Saji by the roadside in Lahore

 

Depending how late it is, you could either hang around to watch the sun set over the mosque, or make your way back to Mall Road and hit up the Lahore Museum, home to Pakistan’s largest collection of historic artefacts and, crucially in summer, cavernous and cool rooms (Museum entry PKR 400, = $4). Either way, to get back to the hotel you walk across the park towards the highway and arrive at Azadi Chowk Metrobus Station. Take a bus back down towards Mall Road for PKR 20 (20 cents), alighting at Civil Secretariat Station. Walk back along Mall Road, the same way you came, past the museum.

IMG_8693
Saji makes a delicious dinner!

 

Dinner is at Anarkali Food Street, just back past the museum towards the hostel. Saji, a whole chicken stuffed with salty rice and roasted, is native to Pakistan’s far-flung province of Balochistan on the border with Iran. A quarter chicken and as much rice as you can eat, plus a fruit juice, costs about PKR 300 ($3). Finally, before you hit the sack, make sure to stop by the famous Chaman Ice Cream store just across the road from the Regale Internet Inn – their Coconut Ice Cream (PKR 55 = 55 cents) is a little slice of heaven, while the Coconut Ice Cream Milkshake (PKR 150 = $1.50) might just change your life!

Extreme budget travel?

To do this for under $10 a day, skip the entrance fees to the fort and the museum, and instead spend your time ambling around more of the Walled City – there are plenty of other things to be discovered!

Have you been to India? If not, how do you like the idea of spending a day in Lahore?

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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79 Comments

  • What an awesome guide! Pakistan is one of my dream countries and it’s great to know that whenever I do make it there, it will be easy to keep our costs low. I am positively drooling over all of the food pictures and the buildings look so beautiful. Hope I get to make it there some day so I can put these tips into action!

  • Great to see you featured here Tim. You are undoubtedly an expert in Pakistani and Indian travel and provide great info on your website.

    Love the tips on Lahore, somewhere rarely featured on seasoned travellers itinerary. Now there is little excuse.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words!!! Lahore is such a great city, and Pakistan is such an underrated destination. There are definitely some serious issues in parts of the country, but Lahore and several other cities and regions are perfect for an intrepid traveller to visit! Thanks for reading! :)

  • Refreshing to read a post about Pakistan as it doesn’t seem touristy at all. That’s probably because it’s perceived to be dangerous. It really reminds you of another state of India doesn’t it? Like Punjab right next door. :-)

    I met tons of Pakistanis while working in Saudi Arabia. They are often quite friendly and speak good English.

    • I’m glad you liked it! I’m trying to describe to the world the Pakistan which I know and love, not the one in the headlines.

      Danger is there, definitely, but Lahore (as well as several other places in the country) aren’t *too* dangerous, and can really be enjoyed. I love it here :)

  • Interesting, I haven’t actually known that Pakistan is one of the cheapest countries to travel to. The Saji looks super delicious and I’d love to see that mosque (I’m probably still spoilt by Morocco, cannot get enough of seeing pretty mosques now:P)

    • Oooooh I’d love to go to Morocco!! I’ve hardly seen any of Northern Africa, it will need to be next on the list!! Islamic architecture is a personal obsession of mine :) Thanks for reading!

  • Pakistan has only recently made my travel radar. I would love to go, and knowing it’s great on the budget makes the pull even stronger!

  • Wow. This was so much fun to read!
    I’m originally from Lahore and this post made me so nostalgic/hungry! This is definitely the Lahore I’ve known and loved and its so refreshing to see that you captured it!

  • This was a fantastic read, Tim! Both while I was reading your post and I will continue to do so afterwards is look up Saji and Chana Dal recipes!! The latter I read is very healthy in of itself so the beans would work perfect. That looks like fried rice with the chicken on the Saji. Keep up with the great writing and our best always to you in life and in your travels :)

  • I agree, Lahore is one the greatest cities in the world.. it’s just the humidity that is killing me, but that can be taken care of easily.
    And the fact that everything is cheap.. well, I could literally live in there. :)

  • I’d love to visit this part of the world and knowing that it is possible do it on such budget makes me happy :) Thanks for these tips :)

  • These are great tips! We haven’t stepped in Pakistan yet, but is on our list and hopefully we can see all lovely places and taste local dhal that Tim recommends! Already from the photos this country looks more than interesting!! Thanks Tim, thanks Agness!

  • Great post. Pakistan isn’t somewhere that we tend to see as it’s liable to issues of security but I’m so happy that someone went there. Good on you! I probably won’t be going to Pakistan anytime soon, but the border town between India and Pakistan has rave reviews. P.S. Saji sounds like a dish worth having and sharing LOL!

  • That sounds incredibly inexpensive and after traveling to India, I’ve always wondered about Pakistan. But mostly, I’ve always assumed it might not be so safe for a solo female traveler. What was your feeling about safety and was getting around easy?

    • I don’t feel that Lahore is any more dangerous for female travellers than it is for male travellers, so long as a bit of common sense is used. Non-revealing clothes are essential – you should only have your hands, feet and head on display. It’s not the law, but it will really make things easier for you.

      Also, if you’re travelling alone, an understanding of the local culture is helpful – unrelated men and women don’t tend to strike up a conversation on the street. Walking around being overly friendly to members of the opposite gender could be interpreted as a come-on by some people… a good way to avoid this is to mention early in the conversation that you’re travelling with your husband or brother (even if it’s not true) – people should quickly understand that you’re not having *that* type of conversation!!

      Of course, a trip to Pakistan raises certain security questions which apply to both anyone, regardless of gender, and they ought to be asked well before you book the flights. Lahore is not frighteningly dangerous, but as a Pakistani once told me “you have to travel with your eyes open”.

  • Looks like an intense, exciting and entrancing place. Was there much vegetarian street food, Tim? Did they have a lot of lentil dhals around?

    • Hmmm there is vegetarian food, but it’s not particularly nutritious or varied. Potato and pea samosas, and you can ask for the channa dhal to be served without the chicken stock – but if someone is really dedicated to their vegetarianism, they might find it easier to eat from top-end places (and not on the street), or even self-cater in Pakistan. Thanks for reading!

  • Looks like quite an interesting place. I haven’t travelled to Pakistan before but I have visited India and it looks very similar, especially in food options.

  • Two of my sisters-in-law are from Karachi, Pakistan. I always love it when they cook up their home dishes! I wonder if there is any big regional difference between Lahore and Karachi food. Either way, based on the photos, I’m sure I would devour whatever was put in front of me!

  • I really want to visit Pakistan, your post only encourages me more… but I’m wondering beyond what Northern cities I shouldn’t go?

    Thanks!

  • Thank you for the information. It’s a wonderful guide. I didn’t know that Pakistan is the cheapest countries in the world. And although the prices are low, I see they have a great culture and great things to see. Definitely a place to visit!

  • I just decided about ten hours ago that I want to go to Lahore as a side trip from India next year. I am pretty excited to see it is a LOT more affordable than I originally thought, especially lodging.

    That Saji looks delicious.

    Thanks so much for this post!

    • Thanks for the feedback Jennifer!! I’m sure you’d love Lahore, there’s so much to see and do! Drop by my blog some time, and hopefully I’ll have some helpful hints for you there… or alternatively drop me a line, I love to tell people about my adopted home, and help make their visit a bit easier :D

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